Tag Archives: new school year

High and Lows (Mostly Highs!) of the First Two Weeks

I survived my first two weeks as a high school math teacher! So many things have been running through my mind, but right now I’m going to make a list of things that are going well and things that need improvement. I just want to get it all out. I hope to blog more regularly from now on!

Things that are going well

  • I love my school. It’s so, so, so good. My colleagues are incredibly supportive and amazingly talented. Our students care about their school and each other. I am very fortunate to be part of such a strong community.
  • There are some very effective school-wide policies in place that administrators, teachers, and students are all on the same page about. I feel like this really promotes school pride and diminishes behavior problems.
  • My Geometry and FST students are awesome kids. I am so impressed by them.
  • Creating a classroom that values mistake making. This is a work in progress, but I’ve got a decent start.
  • Establishing a classroom community where the kids feel comfortable talking to each other. Seniors are good with this (too good, actually), and I’m still working on Geometry kids.
  • I have established some classroom routines! Phew. Thank you Andrew Stadel for Estimation180. It’s been a great way to start class every day. Similarly, ending class with an exit ticket lets students know that we work until the bell, as well as provides me with some great feedback.
  • Using whiteboards (both big and small) has been an effective way to get students to share their thinking and to just get some students to write something down.
  • I’ve done some deep activities, problems, tasks, or whatever you wanna call ’em that have produced good results.
  • I am learning every day.
  • I am finding time to exercise and cook dinner. (Sleep is another matter. Looks like I might pick up drinking coffee again…)

Thank you to all the inspiring teachers who share their wonderful ideas and activities so that I can use them. I stand on the shoulders of giants.

Things to improve

  • Classroom management. Can you tell I’m a first year teacher?
  • Similar to the first point, I struggle with engaging every student when I’m talking to the whole class. Group work is my strength: students discussing with each other with me floating around from group to group asking questions and guiding them along. In contrast, I feel like I’m not strong enough at whole-class lecturing and encouraging note-taking. I think I just need to be more strict about it. No talking when I’m talking. Pick up a pencil and write something down.
  • Kids who are absent. And the kids who are just now switching into my class. How can I get them up to speed?
  • Checking homework and going over answers. What a big ol’ unproductive time sink.
  • Better hand-writing. I save my Smart Notebook documents and upload them to my class website for students to use as a reference. Neater hand-writing would be easier for kids to read and follow.

Have a lovely weekend, everyone! Here’s to a great year!

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Filed under culture, productive struggle

So Excited!

Ahhhh! I am so excited to start teaching!!!!!

I just can’t contain my excitement right now, so I had to post something.

I am at school right now (can finally start moving into my classroom!), where I just finished a 3 hour district training on building classroom community. It was so great. Most of the new teachers in the district were there, and I always really appreciate connecting with people who are at the same place as me.

The training was well organized and enjoyable. I didn’t really learn anything new, but it was wonderful to be able to discuss ideas with colleagues and process everything I’ve been thinking about over the summer. It was put on by the district’s teacher mentors, who were incredibly welcoming and enthusiastic. One of the mentors was previously (until this year) a math teacher at the high school, and she is just so lovely and helpful to have as a resource.

There are actually FOUR new math teachers at the high school this year, and three of us were at the training, so it was awesome to connect with those guys as well. I feel like we’re already bonding, and after the training the three of us went upstairs to the math department, checked out each other’s rooms, and continued to talk about the upcoming school year. Then they even helped me move my computer, which was oddly set up on a table in right in front of the whiteboard, on to my desk and made sure everything was functioning. Really great people. I am truly looking forward to collaborating with them this year.

In fact, all of the staff and administration I’ve met so far have been great, and the district seems very welcoming and supportive. How did I get so lucky?

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Filed under collaboration